Best Intermediate Clarinets Review in 2018

Finding quality intermediate clarinets to perform at a higher level isn't an easy task, but there are some good brands available that will aid your technique and help you excel. Intermediate clarinets should have a good response throughout the instrument and make it more enjoyable for you to perform and practice. Finding the right clarinet takes a little knowledge and some trial and error.

Value Section


Best Intermediate Clarinets

If you're looking for intermediate clarinets, then the chances are good that you've been playing at least two to three years or you have a decent amount of technique under your fingers. The biggest change from beginning to intermediate is the quality of the wood and the keys.

With intermediate clarinets, you'll end up with a clarinet that is made out of wood and uses keys made from stronger, less pliable metal. The intermediate clarinet may be the last clarinet you ever have to buy, so it's important to get a good clarinet that will serve you well through high school and college if you decide to continue.

The main brands to consider for intermediate clarinets are Buffet, Yamaha, Noblet and Selmer. All of these brands produce a range of instruments, so you'll want to be careful when selecting the right instrument for you.


With intermediate clarinets, you're going to get an instrument that produces a better tone. It will also have keys that are less resistant to bending, and you will probably need to take your instrument in less often for repairs. The instrument will also provide a more enjoyable playing experience, and the air resistance will be more complementary to a player who has more playing experience.

At the intermediate level, the student should know how to take care of their instrument and they may even start making their own reeds. If you're already making your own reeds, then you might as well save up for a top-line professional instrument. One of the main differences between a beginner and intermediate instrument is the material. An intermediate player will use a clarinet that uses wood instead of plastic or ebonite.

Buying Criteria

The ideal wood for intermediate clarinets is African blackwood. This type of wood gives you an excellent tone, and it is the preferred wood among seasoned professionals. However, this type of wood is also delicate, and you'll need to take good care of your instrument to ensure it lasts a long time. One good option is to select one of the Greenline clarinets from the Buffet line. These instruments add 5 percent carbon fiber to the African blackwood to make the instrument less susceptible to temperature changes and more resilient.

Silver or nickel keys are fine for intermediate clarinets. Silver will look better, but it can also tarnish more easily. This is mostly a care and appearance decision that doesn't affect the playability of the instrument. Look for a clarinet that has a large bore as well, the larger bore instruments are designed to be more flexible but they are harder to play. However, an intermediate player does need to learn how to control one of these instruments if they are going to have a lasting performance career. Finally, you want a well-designed ligature to ensure that the reed vibrates effectively.

Care and Use

There are some basic rules you need to follow to prepare any new clarinet for use. You should avoid leaving your clarinet out of its case, and you should never leave your clarinet in any area that isn't temperature controlled.

Living in a dry environment may require you to keep your clarinet in a room with a humidifier. You can also buy a special case that controls the humidity for you. On the other end of the spectrum, a wet climate may have too much humidity in the air that can cause the wood of the clarinet to swell.

Always clean out the inside of your clarinet to remove any moisture before you put it away. This will ensure that the clarinet doesn't break down. Additionally, proper cleaning after each use will also prevent mold, corrosion and mildew.


When you get your clarinet, you need to take precautions to prevent any issues. This is especially true of Grenadilla clarinets. If you don't properly break-in your clarinet, it can crack and break. Limit your playing time to 15 minutes per day for the first week. Increase your playing time by 15 minutes a day for the next four weeks. After that, you can play normally, but make sure you always swab out your clarinet when you're done playing. Some professionals who purchase expensive clarinets will follow a break-in regimen for two months before playing on the clarinet regularly. If you have more than one clarinet, it's important to keep them in good condition by playing them regularly.

Ever curious about how the register key received its name? This video explains it all, and gives you one more tool for identifying the various parts of the clarinet:

Five Best Intermediate Clarinets

Yamaha YCL450

YCL-450NM Duet+ Intermediate Clarinet

Yamaha is one of the top instrument choices for all musicians. The company makes an exceptional line of intermediate clarinets that are robust, provide a clean tone and make it easier to perform. This particular clarinet features nickel-plated keys to reduce the chance of corrosion and a Grenadilla wood body that is designed to provide a superior tone.

This is an intermediate to professional clarinet that you will have to break in. It comes with all of the accessories you need to get started, including a case, ligature, mouthpiece, and barrel. The instrument has a smooth and balanced tone. The instrument also tends to come with extras like reeds and a cleaning cloth. This instrument will provide any player with an exceptional instrument that will last a long time if properly cared for.

The mouthpiece for this clarinet is typically a 4C mouthpiece. The tapered undercut of the instrument gives it incredible intonation and a solid response. The blue steel springs and double skin pads make it comfortable and reliable. The only plastic on this instrument is a ABS resin that is injection-molded to the inner bore of the upper joint. However, this additional acts to make the instrument more durable since Grenadilla wood is delicate.

  • Wood: Uses Grenadilla wood for a smooth and delicate sound
  • Intonation: The straight holes and tapering give the clarinet stable intonation and quick response
  • Durability: With nickel-plated keys, double-skin pads and resin in the upper joint, this instrument is designed to last
  • Wood: While Grenadilla wood is preferred, it does require meticulous care to keep it in good condition
  • Case: The case doesn't do a good job humidifying the instrument, which means you may need a humdifier
  • Keys: Nickel-plated keys are reliable, but they don't provide the same luster as silver-plated keys

Yamaha YCL650

Yamaha YCL650

A step up from the Yamaha YCL450 is the Yamaha YCL650. This instrument is truly a professional instrument, but it might be the perfect choice for an intermediate player who knows they want to make a career as a clarinet player. This clarinet will perform well throughout high school, college and well into the first venture into the world of professional music. It's a highly reliable instrument that will serve most any aspiring intermediate player well.

This clarinet rivals the specifications on the company's custom-made clarinets. You'll get premium materials without the cost of a custom-made axe. The instrument uses Grenadilla wood and silver-plated keys. Look further and you'll find exquisite Pisoni pads and an adjustable thumb rest that makes it possible to get the right fingering position regardless of the size of your hands.

The barrel is 65mm, which will help the player to get a more focused sound. The barrel size will also contribute to a more consistent intonation and a more flexible playing experience. A player who is moving up from a beginning horn may experience additional squeaks at first, but once the advanced technique is mastered, this instrument will produce an exceptional tone. The instrument also comes with a hard case, fabric outer cover, cleaning accessories, ligature and a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece.

  • Quality: Professional-quality instrument that uses the same materials from the company's custom line
  • Keys: The keys offer a silver plating for a more brilliant look
  • Wood: Grenadilla wood is used to allow players to get a sweet and smooth sound
  • Barrel: The 65mm barrel may cause some problems for less experienced musicians
  • Keys: Silver plating on the keys looks amazing, but they are more prone to tarnishing
  • Flexibility: For a beginner, the increased flexibility may cause issues with playing

Buffet Crampon E11

Buffet Crampon E11

Buffet is another top name in clarinet manufacturing. While many of their products aren't quite as good as the Yamaha brand, they still provide an excellent selection of intermediate clarinets at reasonable prices. This particular clarinet has everything you need to enjoy a fulfilling ensemble experience, and it is also well-suited to solo playing.

The instrument is made out of Grenadilla wood, and the model is based on a German version of a clarinet the company acquired from the Schreiber brand. It comes with the original case, and the instrument uses top-quality materials in the design. The instrument is not the best intermediate clarinet they make, but this is an ideal option for the student who plans only to play through college.

If you don't like the ligature on this instrument, you can always swap the ligature out for your own. This will help you get a custom tone that isn't possible with the default instrument. The only real drawback to this model is that some students may find they are fighting with the pitch on certain notes. Some of the notes are slightly sharp and some are flat. While this can be corrected in real-time due to the flexibility of the instrument, it's one of the issues that makes this an intermediate instrument.

  • Build: Uses high-quality Grenadilla wood
  • Tone: Gets a professional tone and quick response
  • Accessories: Comes with plenty of accessories for additional value
  • Intonation: The instrument doesn't have perfect tuning throughout
  • Craftsmanship: Some minor repairs may be needed due to screws that loosen over time
  • Sound: Pure and focused sound, but this is hampered by the need to carefully adjust pitch

Buffet Crampon R13

Buffet Crampon R13

When it comes to professional clarinet playing, you really can't beat a Buffet Crampon R13. This instrument is a fantastic instrument that is well-suited to the intermediate to advanced player. It's exceptionally well made and is handcrafted to produce an exceptional and pure sound. Professionals around the world use this instrument, and it's a good idea to save up and buy this now if you're considering a career as a clarinetist.

The barrel is a 66mm barrel, which is open and allows the player plenty of flexibility in how the tone of the instrument is shaped. The instrument is also made with Grenadilla wood, and it will help you to produce a pure and desirable tone. The clarinet has a 40-year history, and it's known as one of the best clarinets available.

Accessories are included, but since this is a professional instrument, there are some parts that are left out. A mouthpiece isn't included since many intermediate and professional players have developed their own preference. The instrument also comes with a case made of an exceptional wood and a plush interior. The clarinet is designed to perform solos, create recordings and excel in the orchestra. With this instrument, the only limitation will be your own playing technique.

  • Quality: One of the best clarinets available on the market
  • Barrel: A 66mm barrel makes it possible to gain complete control over the instrument
  • Bore: Uses a polycylindrical bore to give the instrument a dark and full timbre
  • Price: This is an expensive intermediate instrument, and it should only be purchased by a player who intends to compete professionally
  • Mouthpiece: There is no mouthpiece included with this instrument, but most players at this level have their own
  • Flexibility: This instrument is almost too flexible, which is fine for a professional but may cause issues for an intermediate player

Selmer CL211

In the world of intermediate clarinets, Selmer holds a proud position as one of the most reliable manufacturers. The company prides itself on making instruments that help students get to the next level in their playing. To that aim, the intermediate clarinets in their lineup always have smaller bores that make it possible for the player to get a good mix of flexibility and exceptional tone response.

The Selmer CL211 features undercut tone holes, an adjustable thumbrest and silver-plated keys. These are all features that will have most any musician excited to try out this model. The instrument features a pure and focused tone that is ideal for solos and ensemble playing, and the lucky musician who plays this instrument will enjoy the even intonation across the register.

The instrument comes with a locking case to help protect your investment. It also comes with some basic accessories and a mouthpiece that will likely prove an upgrade to any beginners instrument. Overall, the instrument has an exceptional response, uses quality Grenadilla wood and sounds exceptional. It's also priced appropriately to make it possible for most intermediate players to purchase this clarinet.

  • Design: Intended to help the intermediate player develop a more focused tone
  • Wood: Uses Grenadilla wood that is unstained for a pure and pliable sound
  • Accessories: Comes with a mouthpiece, cleaning cloth, grease, bore cleaning rag and a case
  • Keys: The undercut keys may make it more difficult for an individual with larger fingers to play
  • Keys: Silver plating on the keys means the performer will need to conduct careful maintenance and cleaning
  • Wood: Grenadilla wood must be cared for well or it will lose its structure


While the Buffet R13 is undoubtedly a better clarinet, the Yamaha YLC650 is more well-suited to the average intermediate player. The instrument offers an exceptional design, good intonation and premium components that are typically found on custom instruments. This is an excellent option for the high school student who is considering college admissions and wants to try for a music scholarship. The tone is exceptional and the near-professional-features make it an ideal instrument for any serious player. The included accessories increase the value of the instrument, and you'll be glad you purchased an instrument from a company with a long reputation of excellence in instrument manufacturing and construction.

Stephanie Su

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: